Bollywood, ablutions and beyond!
Monday 15th Nov (cont’d)
I’m up at 0700 local time. (so 2hrs 26 minutes sleep there or there about)
I think I make that about 5 hours sleep since Saturday morning.
Anyway, I’m certainly not complaining.
Off to breakfast in the hotel. I remember last years experience, meaning this year I’m taking no chances.
I of course refer to the food. Last year I was just a bit gallus, sampling all of Mumbai’s delights, straight from the beach on my very first day. I need not explain the repercussions but suffice to say, not pretty.
So, breakfast on my first morning is a completely risk free muffin and a doughnut if you don’t mind.
All washed down with fresh orange juice and coffee.
We head down for our car at 0830, driver arrives at 0840 and we’re off across town for the first time.
En route to Yantra Park (The TCS offices we’ll be working) the traffic is as I remember. Nightmare!
Stu is suitably impressed.
“Lanes…where we’re going, we don’t need lanes”
Arrival at the TCS offices sees a similar welcome to last year.
This includes presentation of flowers and our names up on the Reception television to welcome us.
Nice one guys. What can I say, it’s the small things that get me.
I give my opening gift of shortbread to the guys..
“Are these cookies” I’m asked.
“Yup, close enough for me.”
Once Stu and I are up and running and introduced to the new guys, we spend some time going over the two week plan we have. We’ve a lot to fit in but I’m in no doubt we’ll complete everything.
I’m introduced to the wonder that is the Indian rail website and then, we take a tour of the Yantra Park complex.
Previously owned by the VARTA battery company, it’s an environmentally friendly setup now. It boasts its own medicine garden and generators that recycle much of the excess gases. Many different varieties of trees are planted to help promote the many different species of birds in the area. They only use electricity for lighting after 1700 and the operational buildings are named after the elements. Our guys are in the Aakash building. That translates as space, or SKY. As far as location, you wouldn’t just happen to find this complex though.
It is located off the main road, after a left turn into the most unassuming of dirt tracks. Security is tight though, but friendly.
Lunch is as wonderful, just as I remember, but I didn’t catch the names today. It may only be lunchtime but I’m starting to flag.
Following the afternoon of work, the guys decide to treat us to a Bollywood movie, seeing as we had missed out last year.
They take us to Golmaal 3.
Golmaal means a deceptive situation, with generally some amount of confusion involved.
No kidding. Apart from the lack of sleep, the guys have got us the comfiest seats I’ve ever been to in a cinema, with full on flop our leg rests.
Add to that the lack of subtitles (shame on me not swotting up on my Hindi before I visited) and the result?
Well, it all seemed pretty mad to me. Bonkers even. Enjoyable though.
Anyway, when we got back to the hotel, we were exhausted.
Just time for a quick catch up on the days events, a Kingfisher and off to bed.
Tuesday 16th Nov
Up at 0630.
Breakfast of Indian eggs, then head into office at 0730. Just a minor diversion back to the hotel.
Stu’s forgotten his VPN token and reckons his head is up his a*&e today. (his words not mine)
Funny, I thought he was quite chipper. Last night was after all our first decent kip for a few nights. Some of my first pics taken on the way into work today. Not bad, sure I can do better though. Stu reckons I’m a bit maverick in my approach to getting that shot, ie dangling my camera out of the window. Arrive work 0830, quite a bit before the rest of the guys and straight into clearing yesterdays mail backlog. Seems this will be a theme for the week. It’s a good productive day, much being discussed and demo’d for the team.
Thorntons chocolates into the office as way of another little gift. (I do feel a little guilty about not having enough room in my case for the Sky branded material I had been offered, but I’m sure the shortbread, chocolates and rugby / football shirts yet to come will make up.
Lunch, Rajistani daahl delicious.
We get confirmation of our train booking for the weekend and leave the office late, with all the work we wanted to get through.
Leaving at 1750 means straight into Mumbai rush hour.
Stu, a little like Victor Meldrew, cannot believe it. I pretty much tried not to look and Stu…. Well, had kittens really. I think the easiest way to describe the traffic is simply to try and imagine fitting 6 or 7 lanes of traffic into a three lane road. Beep, beep, beep!
There’s just enough room for a small person to squeeze between cars on the motorway.
When the traffic slows (and sometimes when it doesn’t) this often happens too.
We arrived back at the hotel at 2000.
As we head up in the lift, (Stu on 16, me on 18) I realise I’m about to get off at the wrong floor. I dart back into the lift but realise Stu must have gotten off on the wrong floor because I almost got out on his floor. Oops.
After a freshen up, Stu tells me he actually made it to the door on the wrong floor and wondered why the key wouldn’t work in the door. I didn’t laugh at him. Not one bit.
We sat down stairs for a few hours and had a good natter.
Bed at 2300.
Wednesday 17th Nov
Up at 0630.
Breakfast was good today. Granola with vanilla milk and lychee jam.
Fresh Dragon fruit, pineapple and a fruit that looked like an egg inside a conker. The name slips me.
Driver late again but still in the office for 0830.
In the office I receive a sacred gift (a prasadam) from Yogesh’s sister, all the way from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tirumala_Venkateswara_Temple
It is made mainly from ghee, Stu and I eat together, it’s quite tasty.
Lunch included strawberry lassi. Yum.
And fruit custard. Not so yum.
I tried haggling with TCS (Well Swami did) for better rate but got 71.5 Rupees to pound.
Another good day at the office, followed by a bit of sightseeing in Mumbai after work.
First to Jehangir art gallery where a I chatted to a very nice lady called Shilpa Patole. I told her how much I liked the poem in the back of her booklet. She showed me her price list. I was tempted by one of her canvas work until I saw the 36000 rupees tag. Just a little rich for me at a touch over £600. That, and I did wonder how I’d get it home.
Then off to Gateway to India and Taj Mahal hotel.
I found a few friends here, who wouldn’t leave me alone, looking for money. I don’t know why but the 7 rupees I gave seemed to offend one of the girls. Some folk are just never happy
Then to Marine Drive, followed by Girgaum Chowpatty. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girgaum_Chowpatty
This is the beach / scene of the Pani puri experience from last year. Enough said.
It was then back to the hotel via the Sealink bridge. Making straight to the Masala Bay restaurant, Stu and I enjoyed a good Indian soup before the biggest King prawns I have ever seen in my life. Curd Chilli Prawn was touted as spicy but actually quite buttery. Nice though. On the way out we had some Pan, which really cleansed the palet. Off to Delhi tomorrow, so an early night. (Ahem 0059)
Thursday 18th Nov
In work early today so thought I’d read up a little more on the Indian caste system. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caste_system_in_India
Lots more to handover today, so we got stuck into work with the guys.
Not much time to spare today. Stu and I have previously arranged to have the next day (Friday) off as a holiday, so wanted to get as much done as possible.
As previously mentioned, the plan was to take in as much of the country as possible in the next three days. All being well we hoped to travel from;
Mumbai to Delhi -895 miles
Delhi to Dehradun -150 miles (meet up Tommy Wilson and Vikas Gurung)
Dehradun to Haridwar day trip – 65 miles
Dehradun to Delhi (farewell to Vikas, then Tommy)
Delhi to Agra
Agra to Delhi
Delhi to Mumbai
We leave the office just after 1700 and head for Mumbai airport, for a flight to Delhi.
Through the rush hour traffic we take almost two hours to get to the airport, arriving at 1900.
We check in to find our flight is delayed an hour.
We make our way to the bar to ponder our situation. We have to make it from New Delhi airport to New Delhi train station at the other end, for a connecting train to Dehradun. There is only one, as it is through the night.
Beer is 300Rs, (around £4.20) for a can. “Waaah”
Stu and I phone home as we are both realising time will be tight as soon as we get on to the plane.
Before we board, I make my way to the toilet, only to find myself in another predicament..
I AM in the gents, but there is something peculiar about the doors. Only problem is I don’t realise this until it is too late.
Although there seems to be a queue, there is one available ablution, so I dart in. It is then I realise why other people were queuing outside.
In my embarrassment, I almost dart straight back out but realise that, everyone else in the other queue will realise my mistake too. SO, as they say, “When in Rome.” Or in this case, “When in Delhi”
I can only assume that the signs I failed to see on the way in, but quite clearly saw on the way out can be explained as follows.
EWC = European WC
IWC = Indian WC.
Enough said. In Stu’s words, “One for the team”
We eventually boarded at 2040, taxi’d fairly quickly and were airborne just after 2100.
The announcement was made about the flight time (1 hour 50 minutes) and we tentatively sat back.
I plugged into some tunes on the MP3 player.
Just under two hours of flight to New Delhi and I can’t help but ask myself if we have any chance of making that 2355 train?
To be continued.